Spencer – Film Review
by Katie McCann
Director – Pablo Larraín
Writer – Steven Knight
Stars – Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Jack Nielen
In recent years the hype around the people’s princess has ramped up again. Anyone alive in the ’90s who lived through her divorce and tragic early death will know this hysteria all too well but it seems like the fascination with Diana is not about to disappear from the public consciousness. Pablo Larraín’s latest film Spencer is a slight variation on previous trends though and offers a look at a woman on the edge of a breakdown as opposed to the perfectly posed depiction of Diana we have seen all too many times before and the story is all the fresher for it.
Set over three days during Christmas 1991, Spencer follows Diana as she drives herself to Sandringham House where she is to spend the holidays with the dreaded inlaws. Things are already not off to a good start as she arrives after the Queen and resists the
Christmas traditions being hoisted upon her by the firm. What follows is a close and at times painful look at a woman trying her best to hold it all together but finding she can no longer bend under the pressure placed upon her. Kirsten Stewart plays the doomed Diana, Princess of Wales, with a level of vulnerability and fragility that makes you fear she may shatter into a thousand pieces at any moment. It is always a high bar to reach when playing a real person that everyone who comes to the film will know and thankfully Stewart not only nails the accent but she really captures something of Diana’s wide-eyed innocence that made her such a beloved figure to so many.
While the story is one we all know there is a freshness to this version of events through the way it is told. It is less about what happened over those three days and more about the woman who emerged at the end of it all. History hangs heavily over the film in more ways than one but through Larraín’s stunning direction and Stewart’s skilful performance, this film will leave you feeling like you have been given a fresh insight into one of the most famous women of all time.